Little Bits of History

And the Rains Came

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 26, 2014
Mumbai flooding from 2005

Mumbai flooding from 2005

July 26, 2005: It rains in Mumbai. Rain began to fall around 2 PM. The trains came to a halt around 2:30 because the tracks were waterlogged. Since the trains weren’t running, more traffic took to the roads. The roads became treacherous with low-lying areas dangerous to drive through and in some cases, completely impassable. With cars and trains having difficulty, buses were filling. By 4 PM, a BEST bus left Churchgate for Mahim, 8.8 miles away. It took four hours to make the trip. By 5 PM cell phone networks were down and only some landlines were still functional. With the disruption in communications, radio and TV stations were unable to get weather updates, increasing the level of chaos.

Power Lake started to overflow at 4 PM and during the course of the storm discharged 5.95 million cubic meters of water (over 1.5 billion gallons) into the Mithi River. When looking at graphs of water movement after the storm, it was noted that two flood waves took place. The first coincided with the high tide. The second wave would normally have been absorbed because it was during a time of low tide. However, the first flood wave did not have time to recede and so the second wave met with still remaining water from the first. The drainage systems were clogged and unable to draw off standing water. Power was cut off during the evening since stations were submerged.

The rains continued to fall and 994 mm (39.1 inches) lashed Mumbai over a 24 hour period. This is the eighth highest 24 hour rainfall. Rain continued intermittently the next day as well. Between 8 AM and 8 PM, 644 mm (25.4 inches) fell. For the next week, torrential storms blew over the city. Other places in India were also struck by these storms. Historically, the greatest 24 hour rainfall in India took place in 2004 when 1,168 mm (46.0 inches) fell in Aminidivi on May 6. The previous record for Mumbai was 575 mm (22.6 inches) which fell during one day in 1976.

At least 5,000 people died as a result of these floods along with 24,000 animals. All commercial, trading, and industrial activity was halted for several days. Schools were shut down and post-storm the days were classified as holidays. The financial cost of the floods were estimated at $100 million. Neither the Bombay Stock Exchange nor the National Stock Exchange of India could fully function. All domestic and international airports were closed for over 30 hours which either cancelled or delayed over 700 flights. Much of the public transportation system suffered losses and damages. Over 26,000 vehicles had been stranded on the roadways. Emergency relief was organized and implemented as quickly as possible with over 25,000 people helped at fifteen locations.

The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Rain is grace; rain is the sky descending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life. – John Updike

You pray for rain, you gotta deal with the mud too. That’s a part of it. – Denzel Washington

The rain begins with a single drop. – Manal al-Sharif

Also on this day: The Polite Bandit – In 1875, a strange, but polite, man commits his first robbery
First Railway – In 1803, Surrey Iron Railway opened.
As the Worm Turns – In 1989, Robert Morris was indicted.
Feebs – In 1908, the FBI was formed.

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